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3. General Planning Policies

3.1. All the policies in this Plan and the Structure Plan have to be considered in determining any planning application. This Plan has been organised so that policies on all the standard matters are grouped together in this section and these will apply to all development. It is followed by policies on more specific themes such as economic activity and housing.

3.2. The objective of the policies in this section of the Plan is:

• To ensure that development contributes to the achievement of social progress which meets the needs of everyone, effective protection of the environment and prudent use of natural resources.

3.3. The planning system has a role to play in implementing sustainability objectives through the development control process, although there are limits to what it can achieve on its own. Its influence on the design, location and accessibility of buildings is one area where it can contribute to the creation of sustainable settlements and work places. Issues for consideration include: visual appearance of the building, protection of the historic environment, promoting biodiversity, designing out crime through the avoidance of public areas that are out of view, promoting home energy efficiency through the orientation, spacing and grouping of buildings, the location and size of windows, conservatories as buffer zones, planting appropriate windbreaks, avoiding the overshadowing of neighbouring buildings, solar panels, porous surfaces for car parking to reduce the rate of water run off and the provision of water butts to collect rainwater for garden use. Some of these techniques potentially conflict with each other and therefore a pragmatic approach will be required. The choice, however, should be an informed one.

3.4. This section addresses the following local quality of life issues, which could all potentially be relevant to any proposal:

• Access
• Design including community safety
• Flood protection
• Good neighbourliness
• Light pollution
• Infrastructure provision to support development
• Nature conservation including biodiversity
• Vehicle parking standards

Access

3.5 The key issues of the Council’s Transport Strategy are set out in detail in Chapter 9. The objectives in this Plan are to locate high trip generating activity in areas well served by public transport; to increase the proportion of journeys made by rail and bus, on foot and by cycle; to reduce the number and length of motor vehicle trips by the location of development; and to minimise the adverse effects of traffic on residential and shopping areas by traffic management measures.

3.6 The Council will work with highway authorities to ensure that, whenever possible, transport investment and the resultant transport network will support the Plan’s development strategy and policies.

3.7 The impact of development on the road network will be assessed and Traffic Impact Assessments may be required as part of applications for planning permissions. Improvements to the transport infrastructure will be sought where appropriate. The environmental impact of traffic arising from a development will similarly be assessed and Environmental Assessments may also be required. The cumulative impact of developments will also be taken into account.

3.8 Development proposals for any building that the public may use will be required to provide safe, easy and inclusive access for all people regardless of disability, age or gender. This should include access to, into and within the building and its facilities, as well as appropriate car parking and access to public transport provision.

3.9 The needs of walkers, cyclists and horse riders will be taken into account whenever development would affect routes used by riders or where the potential for the creation of new paths along strategic routes would be jeopardised. Suitable replacement paths will be required when routes used by walkers and riders will no longer be suitable for continued use as a result of other changes to the road network or new development.

Policy GEN1 – Access

Development will only be permitted if it meets all of the following criteria:

a) Access to the main road network must be capable of carrying the traffic generated by the development safely.
b) The traffic generated by the development must be capable of being accommodated on the surrounding transport network.
c) The design of the site must not compromise road safety and must take account of the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, public transport users, horse riders and people whose mobility is impaired.
d) It must be designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities if it is development to which the general public expect to have access.
e) The development encourages movement by means other than driving a car.

Design

3.10 Further Supplementary Planning Documents will be prepared on design issues. This will encourage development to be designed so that it meets the needs of those with physical and sensory impairment. The SPD will also encourage Lifetime Homes, promote compliance with the Association of Chief Police Officers “Secured by Design” Award criteria or any successor initiative and ensure appropriate open space provision and play equipment is provided. Development in accordance with the SPD will be expected to minimise waste generation and enable recycling and also to incorporate design measures to minimise water consumption and to encourage sustainable drainage systems, retention and re-use of grey water. Other aspects of sustainable development design including use of renewable energy, reduction of energy use and planting to enhance new development will also be covered. The Essex Design Guide for Residential and Mixed Use Areas has been adopted as supplementary planning guidance.

Policy GEN2 – Design

Development will not be permitted unless its design meets all the following criteria and has regard to adopted Supplementary Design Guidance and Supplementary Planning Documents.

a) It is compatible with the scale, form, layout, appearance and materials of surrounding buildings;
b) It safeguards important environmental features in its setting, enabling their retention and helping to reduce the visual impact of new buildings or structures where appropriate;
c) It provides an environment, which meets the reasonable needs of all potential users.
d) It helps to reduce the potential for crime;
e) It helps to minimise water and energy consumption;
f) It has regard to guidance on layout and design adopted as supplementary planning guidance to the development plan.
g) It helps to reduce waste production and encourages recycling and reuse.
h) It minimises the environmental impact on neighbouring properties by appropriate mitigating measures.
i) It would not have a materially adverse effect on the reasonable occupation and enjoyment of a residential or other sensitive property, as a result of loss of privacy, loss of daylight, overbearing impact or overshadowing.

Flood Protection

3.11 With climate change, assessments of areas with a high potential risk of flooding need to take into account new information and be kept up to date. Areas at high potential risk of flooding from rivers are defined as those where the annual probability of flooding is greater than 1.0%. They will be identified in supplementary planning documents

3.12 All the urban extensions and settlement expansions proposed in this Plan are on land above flood plains. The arrangements for surface water run off disposal will need to take the implications for flood risk elsewhere fully into account.

3.13 Surface water disposal from new developments, is the responsibility of the developer, and must, where practicable, take place on site using appropriate and acceptable methods, including soakaways. New connections to the public sewerage system must not pose an unacceptable threat of surcharge, flooding or pollution. Surface water must not be allowed to drain to the foul sewer as this is the major contributor to sewer flooding.

3.14 The Environment Agency is in general opposed to the culverting of watercourses because of the adverse ecological and flood defence effects likely to arise

Policy GEN3 – Flood Protection

Within the functional floodplain, buildings will not be permitted unless there is an exceptional need. Developments that exceptionally need to be located there will be permitted, subject to the outcome of flood risk assessment.

Where existing sites are to be redeveloped, all opportunities to restore the natural flood flow areas should be sought.

Within areas of flood risk, within the development limit, development will normally be permitted where the conclusions of a flood risk assessment demonstrate an adequate standard of flood protection and there is no increased risk of flooding elsewhere.

Within areas of the floodplain beyond the settlement boundary, commercial industrial and new residential development will generally not be permitted. Other developments that exceptionally need to be located there will be permitted subject the outcome of a flood risk assessment.

Outside flood risk areas development must not increase the risk of flooding through surface water run-off. A flood risk assessment will be required to demonstrate this. Sustainable Drainage Systems should also be considered as an appropriate flood mitigation measure in the first instance.

For all areas where development will be exposed to or may lead to an increase in the risk of flooding applications will be accompanied by a full Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) which sets out the level of risk associated with the proposed development. The FRA will show that the proposed development can be provided with the appropriate minimum standard of protection throughout its lifetime and will demonstrate the effectiveness of flood mitigation measures proposed.

Good Neighbourliness

Policy GEN4 - Good neighbourliness

Development and uses, whether they involve the installation of plant or machinery or not, will not be permitted where:

a) noise or vibrations generated, or
b) smell, dust, light, fumes, electro magnetic radiation, exposure to other pollutants;

would cause material disturbance or nuisance to occupiers of surrounding properties

Light Pollution

3.15 There is a potential conflict between keeping lighting to a minimum as part of protecting the character of the countryside, maintaining the visibility of the night sky, and security and safety objectives. Lighting can also extend the opportunity for outdoor sport activities in the winter months when there is limited daylight. This conflict can be resolved to some extent by careful specification and the use of the best available technology where the cost is proportionate to the benefit, but there may be circumstances where, for example, the importance of facilities to sport development is judged to outweigh the effect on the countryside.

Policy GEN5 – Light pollution

Development that includes a lighting scheme will not be permitted unless:

a) The level of lighting and its period of use is the minimum necessary to achieve its purpose, and
b) Glare and light spillage from the site is minimised.

Infrastructure Provision to Support Development

3.16 This will be relatively straightforward where a development such as new housing directly creates a need for new facilities to serve its residents. It is important that in these cases the facilities are provided as soon as they are required. However, in the urban areas where new development is concentrated, even small scale development will cumulatively impact on service provision. It is intended that the scale of development shown in this Plan will form the basis for assessments of impacts on infrastructure and the identification of costed proposals that may be necessary. The Council will then seek to reach agreement with a developer over an appropriate contribution that fairly reflects the level of demand its scheme would generate. Contributions may be applied to specific proposed projects or held in reserve for a reasonable period and used to address impacts arising after the development has been occupied. Supplementary Planning Documents setting out the basis for assessments of impacts and contributions will be adopted.

Policy GEN6 –Infrastructure Provision to Support Development

Development will not be permitted unless it makes provision at the appropriate time for community facilities, school capacity, public services, transport provision, drainage and other infrastructure that are made necessary by the proposed development. In localities where the cumulative impact of developments necessitates such provision, developers may be required to contribute to the costs of such provision by the relevant statutory authority.

Nature Conservation

3.17 Nature conservation interest is not confined to the National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, county wildlife sites and special verges, which are specifically covered in the Environment section of this Plan.

Policy GEN7 – Nature Conservation

Development that would have a harmful effect on wildlife or geological features will not be permitted unless the need for the development outweighs the importance of the feature to nature conservation. Where the site includes protected species or habitats suitable for protected species, a nature conservation survey will be required. Measures to mitigate and/or compensate for the potential impacts of development, secured by planning obligation or condition, will be required. The enhancement of biodiversity through the creation of appropriate new habitats will be sought.

Vehicle Parking Standards

3.18 A realistic approach is needed. This will try and discourage unlimited car parking provision on new developments and thereby car usage, to help tackle the growing problem of traffic emissions and road congestion, encourage efficiency in the use of fossil fuels, and making it easier to walk or cycle for local short distance trips, but only in appropriate locations. It must avoid the risk of parking being displaced to elsewhere within a neighbourhood. Uttlesford’s communities lack high quality public transport. In common with many other rural communities, using the car is the only practical way of getting to work, accessing services and making leisure trips. Car ownership levels are relatively high and existing car parking provision is well used. It is important that car parking for new development is adequate. Where there is a lack of off street parking in older residential areas this results in a high level of on street parking. In some localities this results in obstruction of roads and footpaths, causing particular problems for those with limited mobility. The level of parking on new developments should neither exacerbate existing parking problems in communities nor create problems where they do not presently exist.

Policy GEN8 – Vehicle Parking Standards

Development will not be permitted unless the number, design and layout of vehicle parking places proposed is appropriate for the location, as set out in Supplementary Planning Guidance “Vehicle Parking Standards”, a summary extract of which is reproduced in Appendix 1 to this Plan.

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